Dill - How to Cook and Grow

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A hardy annual with delicate anise tasting leaves much used in fish cookery and also as flavouring for soups and sauces. The hollow stalks of the plant, which can grow, to some three feet produce thread-like green leaves and clusters of tiny yellow flowers from June to October. Dill is another herb with long historical attachments from the Ancient Egyptians through the Middle Ages when it was used to combat witchcraft.


How to Grow

Dill grows outdoors throughout Europe, North and South America preferring full sun and acid soil supplemented with good compost or manure. I prefer to sow either directly into the soil or in plugs as transplanting only aggravates it. Sow in stages to ensure a good crop throughout the summer, the first frost tends to kill most plants but self-sown seeds often germinate for cropping the following year. Harvest any seeds in the autumn and then dig the plants up ensuring there are no seed heads remaining before composting unless you want a crop in your compost heap for the next two to three years!

How to Cook

Probably my favourite example of the use of dill is the wonderful speckled coating it gives to the Scandinavian cured salmon dish known as Gravadlax. Roughly chopped it makes an exquisite last minute flavouring to a white fish sauce or sprinkled over some hot buttered new potatoes. Also good mixed through a mayonnaise or as a sweet addition to a green leaf salad or best of all dropped into the classic Vietnamese soup, pho.

Content and picture Miles Collins